West Coast Park Kites
by Tim Parish
The Light Wind Eagle
A few days ago now, we were at West Coast Park in Singapore for some kite flying. We are on holiday over here for a couple of weeks. My brother-in-law Terry had brought along his Light-wind Eagle. Meanwhile, I had decided to try an ornate Fish Kite that his family had once tried to fly.
After having a good look at it, it was clear that the towing point on the double-winged Fish Kite was way too far back. This alone would stop it from rising up, even in a good breeze. On top of that, the kite was rather heavily constructed. The 2 revolving plastic eyes near the nose might look good, but they helped to make the kite nose-heavy, not to mention a bit heavier overall!
Anyway, with the towing point fixed, I just had to go out there and prove that it would fly to some extent. The wind was very light, with slightly stronger gusts coming through from time to time. However, this was enough, together with a little jogging upwind, to prove that the very traditional-looking Chinese kite would actually fly. It only reached a 20 or 25 degree line angle, and it lurched to the right half the time, but it did fly.
Terry's Eagle was a great-looking kite in the air, due to its realistic looks and decent light-wind performance. After getting used to its handling down low, it wasn't long before we had it sailing up high. The airspace above West Coast Park was crowded. In true Singapore style, as soon as a few kites got airborne successfully, others joined in until there was barely a spot to fly safely!
For me, this was a unique experience, trying to keep out of the way of all the closest kites and their flying lines. The last thing I wanted to do was to cross lines with someone and lose the kite. Sometimes it required side-stepping to put some distance between Terry's line and others. At other times, moving up or downwind a little seemed to get some more clear airspace to fly in.
Kite fliers of all experience levels were out there. The beginners tended to fly low and somewhat erratically. The most experienced fliers had big kites which sedately soared hundreds of feet above the ground. Many of these were colorful Deltas.
Wind shifts and gentle thermal activity meant you had to keep a good eye on your kite, to keep it out of trouble. For example, a light wind kite like the Eagle can get temporarily unsettled by a gust and start diving or looping around. No problem when you are on your own, but with 6 other kites nearby it can increase your pulse rate!
Might leave it there. There's the Light Wind Eagle in the photo, while we still had it low.